Min Jin Lee is a great writer, but I don't recommend reading two of her books in a row unless you're a better long-book reader than I am. In case you're not, the tl;dr is that the Japanese were/are not so good to Korean immigrants. Once again, I made way too many notes to share them all here.
The story of Sunja, her mother, and her descendants is made up of one heartbreak after another. It's not a happy saga, but it is beautifully told.
"History has failed us, but no matter."
is how it starts. "No matter" means "weeds would have to be pulled from the vegetable garden, rope sandals would need to be woven if they were to have shoes, and the thieves who tried often to steal their few chickens had to be kept away." regardless of war and politics.
Food. Shelter. Property. That's the story of survival and aggression, among the poor, at least. As the family prospers, there is also learning. A family benefactor says,
"Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge--it's the only kind of power no one can take away from you.' Hansu never told him to study, but rather to learn, and it occurred to Noa that there was a marked difference. Learning was like playing, not labor.
It's possible Pachinko is also about the rigged game of chance that is life.